Opuntia lindheimeri subarmata

Opuntia lindheimeri subarmata
Opuntia lindheimeri subaramata

(Griffiths) Elizondo & Wehbe, Cactaceas y Suculentas Mexicanas 32: 17, 1987

Holotype; Isotype; Isotype; HerbariumHerbarium; Painting; Painting

See the entry for O. lindheimeri.

Original Citation (Spanish)

(Also see Opuntia subaramata, Griffiths)

What is Opuntia lindheimeri subaramata

Opuntia lindheimeri subaramata is a prickly pear cactus that was described as a stand-alone taxon (O. subaramata) by Griffiths.  It is the same cactus as O. engelmannii subaramata described by Weinger (Cacti of Texas, 1988). We accept it as a variety of O. lindheimeri as was described by Elizondo & Wehbe in 1987. 


The cladodes are fleshier, thicker, “heavier seeming” and “denser appearing” than the cladodes of typical O. lindheimeri. This Opuntia makes thicker, more dense shrubs than the parent taxon. The plants may be shorter than the parent variety, but they can get large. The few spines are yellow and may be flat. They may grade to true dark brown without red (even nearly black) at the base, a characteristic that is unusual for O. lindheimeri. O. lindheimeri subaramata areoles may have few glochids or may have many glochids. 

The flowers are essentially like those of O. lindheimeri, as are the fruit and seeds as described by Powell and Weedin:

Flowers are brilliant yellow, but they turn orange or reddish over time. The flowers are 5-8 cm long and 5-7.5(10) cm across. Filaments (1.5 cm long) and anthers are cream-colored. The style is greenish-yellow to white or cream, 1.7 to 2 cm long with a bulbous base. The stigma is typically dark green. The pericarpel is 4-6 cm long and 2-2.5 cm wide. Fruits are purple to reddish-purple, often pyriform, 3-7 cm long, 2.5-3(4) cm in diameter, spineless, and with a shallow umbilicus. The fruit pulp and juice are beet-red and very juicy. The fruit is reported to be sweet, but not always so in our experience. Seeds are tan, irregularly discoid and small, 3-4 mm in diameter by 1 mm thick, with a narrow aril. 

O. lindheimeri subaramata may be hexaploid like the parent taxon, but at least one report suggests that it is tetraploid. 

Other Notes

O. lindheimeri subaramata intergrades with regular O. lindheimeri, but it is a distinct prickly pear that occurs mostly at the western limits of the O. lindheimeri range. The authors have observed this Opuntia near Amistad National Recreation Area near Eagle Pass, TX; near Del Rio, TX; in the McKittrick hills west of Carlsbad, NM; and on the Edwards Plateau of Texas. It may occur north to the Lubbock, TX area, but we have not confirmed it for such location. 

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